Wednesday, August 17, 2005
the mighty case
Leaving the pole barn I come upon an amazing sight - a valley of dinosaurs. Literally hundreds of old tractors are lined up row after row, shining examples of farming days gone by. The stars of the show are the huge steam tractors. These giants lumber around the grounds, occasionally moving from their appointed holding spots to where the demonstrations are to take place.
Again, I'm struck by how quiet the machines operate as opposed to their noisy cousins, the combustion engine machines. This 1919 steam powered Case tractor was my favorite. Perhaps because I had spent some time watching the owner shovel coal into it's belly, and a bit later it produced a full head of steam and this awesome plume of smoke from the stack. Politically incorrect smoke in this day and age, but a symbol of power at the time.
I stand close to the mighty Case, and it breathes imperceptibly. You become aware of the heat and the fine balance to keep it's power balanced and safe. A little on edge being this close to so much raw power, I jump noticeably when water drips from an opening and dances noisily across the metal, like spit on a griddle.
I handed this gentleman one of my cards, and I hope he has the chance to witness an image of the power of his machine. All of these machines are lovingly cared for by everyday folks, a kind of grass roots living museum effort. These men are the curators. I can imagine that this is a time consuming and expensive effort.